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Tiny tomatoes make for the best bruschetta
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Tiny tomatoes make for the best bruschetta

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FOOD-BRUSCHETTA-TINY-TOMATOES-LA

Top bruschetta with marinated tiny tomatoes for better flavor without mush.

Peak summer tomatoes are sweet enough to eat alone or layered into a simple salad, but sometimes they need a little heft to turn into a meal. Enter bruschetta.

This long-standing Italian antipasto staple of olive oil-grilled bread comes from the word “bruscare,” which originally referred to cooking with fire. That’s how I like my bread — charred over smoky coals — but stovetop-toasted slices taste great, too, especially when they’ve been rubbed with garlic.

I blast the bread over high heat with the grill, stove, broiler or toaster oven. That gives it a flavorful, sturdy crust outside without getting so crunchy all the way through that it cuts the roof of your mouth when you take a bite. With a generous drizzle of olive oil and a light flurry of salt, the garlicky bread is a delicious vehicle for holding anything from wilted greens to smashed beans.

On warm summer days, I like it best piled with marinated tomatoes. Often, fat tomatoes are diced for bruschetta, but I find that topping too wet with a diluted taste even if the tomatoes have been seeded. Instead, I use small grape or cherry tomatoes. Good ones burst like flavor bombs when you pop them in your mouth.

Simply sliced in halves or quarters, they soak up a tangy olive oil and vinegar blend without turning to mush or diminishing in flavor. I add a splash of soy sauce to the mix to highlight the natural savory umami in tomatoes and add a smashed whole garlic clove to give the topping the aroma of garlic without the overpowering bite of minced bits. To maximize basil’s freshness, I tear leaves on top right before serving.

You can assemble the toasts as a composed appetizer platter or turn it into a family-style main dish. I simply bring the bowl of marinated tomatoes and platter of freshly grilled bread to the table with a few sprigs of basil. Diners then assemble their own toast just before eating for the most low-effort, high-flavor summer meal.

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